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Tabebuia is a neotropical genus of about 100 species  in the tribe Tecomeae of the family Bignoniaceae. The species range from northern Mexico and the Antilles south to northern Argentina, including those on the islands of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) and Cuba.
They are large shrubs and trees growing to 5 to 50 m (16 to 160 ft) tall depending on the species; many species are dry-season deciduous but some are evergreen. The leaves are opposite pairs, simple or palmately compound with 3-7 leaflets. Tabebuia is a notable flowering tree.
Species in this genus are important as timber trees. The wood is used for furniture, decking, and other outdoor uses. It has a fire rating of A1 (the highest possible, the same as concrete) , and is denser than water (it sinks). It is increasingly popular as a decking material due to its insect resistance and durability. FSC-certified ipê wood is now (as of 2007) readily available on the market, although the legitimacy of these certifications has been questioned.
It has been broadly used as ornamental tree in landscaping gardens, public squares and boulevards due to its impressive and colorful flowering. Many flowers appear on still leafless stems at the end of the dry season, making the floral display more conspicuous.
The bark of several species is used medicinally (particularly the Inner Bark of Tabebuia impetiginosa also known as Lapacho or Taheebo). Its main active principles are lapachol, quercetin and other flavonoids. The inner bark is dried, shredded and then boiled making a bitter or sour-tasting brownish-colored tea. It is also available in pill form. The herbal remedy is typically used during flu and cold season and for "curing" smoker's cough. It apparently works as expectorant: by promoting the lungs to "cough up" and free deeply embedded mucus and contaminants.
Of nearly 100 species, a few notable are:
The demand for ipê has risen dramatically in recent years, especially in the United States. By the 1990s, numerous environmental organizations working on preservation of the Amazon Rainforest reported that about 80% of logging in the Brazilian Amazon was illegal. The Brazilian government has confirmed this figure, most notably in a ‘leaked’ report from the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, the Secretaria de Assuntos Estratégicos (SAE) or Strategic Affairs Secretariat, in which it was confirmed that five times the amount of wood sanctioned to be cut from legal Amazon concessions was being exported and that numerous staff of the environment agency, IBAMA, were taking bribes. In one Greenpeace report, The Santarém Five and Illegal Logging — A Case Study, five companies were reported to be logging illegally in the region around Santarém, Pará. At that time exports from that region were most notably going to the Netherlands and France. Ipê was among the illegal exports.
Much of the ipê imported into the US is used for decking. Starting in the late 1960s, importing companies targeted large boardwalk projects to sell ipê, beginning with New York City Parks and Recreation (“Parks”) which maintains the city’s boardwalk, including along the beach of Coney Island. The city began using ipê around that time and has since converted the entire boardwalk — over 10 miles (16 km) long — to ipê. The ipê lasted about 25 years, at which time (1994), Parks has been replacing it with new ipê. Given that ipê trees typically grow in densities of only one or two trees per acre, large areas of forest must be logged to fill orders for boardwalks and, to a lesser extent, homeowner decks.
A Rainforest Relief report, Deep Impact, stated that at one time average yieldswere 76 board feet per acre (44 m³/km²) of FEQ (first export quality — FAS four-side-clear) grade ipê over seven feet (2.1 m) in length. Typically, wooden boardwalks are composed of 30,000 to 40,000 board feet (70 to 90 m³) per city block. For New York City’s 10 miles (16 km) of boardwalk, this would yield an estimate of 83,360 acres (337 km²) of Amazon rainforest logged. However, due to these trees now being grown commercially these numbers no longer apply.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Tabebuia". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|